Goatriders of the Apocalypse

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The right field conundrum

Having signed Ryan Dempster, Jim Hendry's attention will now likely turn to right field.  The current rumor is Mark Teahen, a Royal who is circling the drain of diminished returns.  My take on Teahen is basically that he was good for about 400 at bats 3 years ago and has seen decreased productivity ever since.

I've run through a list of them before, but for kicks let's look again at various RFers of interest.  First, the free agents:

Bobby Abreu - 35, .296 in 609 AB, 39 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 73 BB, .371 OBP, .842 OPS

Abreu is the sexy choice.  He has excellent plate discipline, he's a good hitter, he has some pop to his bat, he steals bases (22 last year and 318 in his career), and he's a run-driver-inner.  He is also getting old and is defensively mediocre.  From the 2000 season through 2005, Abreu averaged 25 homeruns a season.  The past 3 years, he's averaged 17, although he's also batted .292 in that span.

My rule of thumb is that, generally speaking, players over the age of 35 should be avoided.  Abreu might be special enough offensively for that rule to be broken, but he will likely be costly and he might not provide the pop that the Cubs want from RF.

Ken Griffey Jr - 39, .249 AVG in 490 AB, 30 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 78 BB, .353 OBP, .778 OPS

Remember my rule about not pursuing old dudes?  That rule definitely comes into effect with Griffey.  I only mention him because some Cub fans are hot for him because rather than see his age, injury history, and batting line, they see this: 611 HR, 1,772 RBI, .288 AVG, .919 OPS.  Sorry kids, if career numbers meant jack then we'd be getting Hank Aaron to come out of retirement ASAP.

Eric Hinske - 31, .247 AVG in 381 AB, 21 2B, 1 3B, 20 HR, 60 RBI, 47 BB, .333 OBP, .798 OPS

Hinske played like 50 games in right field last year.  He's a journeyman at best, he almost certainly doesn't have the defensive skills necessary, and his batting average is not exactly enticing.  Actually, he's the kind of player that our bestest friend Al Yellon should want - he's a Kevin Millar who actually has a shot at being productive.  Besides, he's been to the World Series two years running, so he has experience on winning ballclubs!  Boo-yah!

Pat Burrell - 32, .250 AVG in 536 AB, 33 2B, 3 3B, 33 HR, 86 RBI, 102 BB, .367 OBP, .874 OPS

Burrell has never, ever played a single game in RF.  However, he did have 12 assists in left last year, which leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, he's got the cannon necessary for the position.  He's never had a great batting average, but he smokes the ball, he's got great patience, and no matter how hard they've tried they were never able to tie him to those dead hookers they found in his basement, oven, and bedroom.  I'm just saying, a guy like that could go a long way on the Cubs.

Adam Dunn - 29, .236 AVG in 517 AB, 23 2B, 0 3B, 40 HR, 100 RBI, 122 BB, .386 OBP, .898 OPS

Ahh, Adam Dunn.  How he loves to hit the homer, especially in Wrigley Field.  Over the span of his career, Dunn is a .247 hitter, but he's batting .286 at Wrigley Field with 23 homeruns in just 217 at bats.  And while Dunn is not a left fielder - or any kind of fielder, really - by nature, you should take comfort in the fact that he played in RF 23 times for Arizona in '08, and has a whopping 82 games played in right in his career.  Considering his age, his staggering power, the fact that he bats lefty, and his tremendous ability to put the hurting on the streets outside Wrigley Field, I personally would love to see Dunn don a Cubs uniform.  But will it happen?  ...eh, he's probably going to be too pricey.

Milton Bradley - 31, .321 AVG in 414 AB, 32 2B, 1 3B, 22 HR, 77 RBI, 80 BB, .436 OBP, .999 OPS

Bradley is a tremendous hitter, with equally tremendous ability and rage.  Hey, maybe his rage fuels his play.  Regardless, if Hendry's next right fielder comes from the free agent market, Bradley might be the likeliest choice because he mixes a fine combination of talent and mental instability, meaning that he should come cheaper than most players with his skill set.  He's also a bit of an injury risk - but he's played 151 games in RF in his career, and he should do a fine job if he can stay in line.

Now, having considered the free agents, here are a list of players who play in RF who Hendry would have to acquire via trade:

Mark Teahen - Kansas City, 27, .255 AVG in 572 AB, 31 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 46 BB, .313 OBP, .715 OPS

The latest name in trade rumors, Teahen - as previously mentioned - is not a great choice offensively.  His AVG and OPS have dropped each of the past 3 years and while he's young enough to get better, I don't think he's the best choice for a team looking to make a dramatic offensive improvement in right field.

Brian Giles - San Diego, 38, .306 AVG in 559 AB, 40 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 87 BB, .398 OBP, .854 OPS

While the Padres exercised their option to keep Giles, some thought is that it was done to deal him.  From 1999 through 2004, Giles averaged 32 homeruns a year.  Since '05, he's averaged 14.  He's still a good hitter with great plate discipline, but his power has "mysteriously" evaporated and he's old.  I wouldn't consider him my first - or fifth - choice.

Andre Ethier - Los Angeles, 26, .305 AVG in 525 AB, 38 2B, 5 3B, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 59 BB, .375 OBP, .885 OPS, 1 Food Blog

Just wistful thinking here.  No way are the Dodgers crazy enough to deal this stud.  He's only going to get better.

Jeremy Hermedia - Florida, 25, .249 AVG in 502 AB, 22 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 48 BB, .323 OBP, .729 OPS

Hermedia was the subject of early off-season trade rumors to the Cubs.  His age is a bonus, his numbers last year a negative, but he's young enough and has enough promise to make him a player worth trading for.  But would the Marlins actually deal him?  Do the Cubs have the necessary tools?  Is Florida craving a slice of Pie?

Elijah Dukes - Washington D.C., 24, .264 AVG in 276 AB, 16 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 50 BB, .386 OBP, .864 OPS

As a kid, Dukes coined the phrase "here comes trouble."  He's so erratic that the Nationals basically have a 24/7 cop who escorts Dukes around.  He's like a younger Milton Bradley with ungodly upside.  Would the Nationals actually deal him?  Unlikely, but looking at his promise I wouldn't be able to resist asking about him.

Luke Scott - Baltimore, 30, .257 AVG in 474 AB, 29 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 65 RBI, 53 BB, .336 OBP, .808 OPS

Not exactly the best option, Luke Scott is a lefty with some power and right field experience.  Maybe Baltimore would part with him, maybe not, but I would suspect that if Jim Hendry does in fact try again to trade for Brian Roberts, he might push for Scott to be a throw-in.  He'd probably be reliable but not a stand-out.

Chances are, if Hendry grabs anybody it'll be one of these guys, unless he makes a trade for a flashy right fielder - I mostly tried to list borderline guys with upside. Now a question for the Goat Rider Army - does anybody have a preference?  Who and why?

Rick Sutcliffe works for YOU

The Chicago Tribune is reporting today that Rick Sutcliffe is apparently trying to land a lobbyist gig for the Chicago Cubs.  He's been blowing up the phone of Padres ace Jake Peavy in order to convince him to accept any trade to the Chicago Cubs.

In some ways, Sutcliffe was Kerry Wood before Kerry Wood got his first pimple.  He was an amazingly talented pitcher who caught the imagination of Cub fans with a handful of dominating seasons who ultimately left Chicago after years of arm injuries.  And, as a kid, he was my favorite Cubs pitcher.

You know, the Cubs are interesting in that way.  Maybe it's not unique to them, but throughout my history of following the team, they have had a knack for acquiring colorful characters with a potent combination of talent and personality.  It's just unfortunate for the Cubs that they have rarely had enough of those guys at one time to win anything.

I've told this story before, although at this point it should probably be more legend than fact because I seriously doubt I'd be able to back it up with a source if anybody challenged me.  But when Sutcliffe retired from baseball in 1994 as a 38 year old man with a broken wing, he was asked about which team he'd enjoyed playing for the most in his career.  He answered by saying "I'm a Cub.  That's me."  I have a feeling that Wood will take the same approach whenever he retires, regardless of where he goes next.

As for Peavy, my spidey-sense tells me that he won't be traded to the Cubs any time soon.  However, while this has so far been the most disappointing off-season in recent memory, I still feel confident that the Cubs will do something to improve.  Jim Hendry, don't fail me now.

Step sideways

As you are all aware, the latest Cub rumors are about the possible acquisition of Randy Johnson, The Big Unit.  Johnson is 5 wins shy of 300 and 211 strikeouts shy of 5,000.  He's also undefeated at Wrigley Field and, earlier in 2008, his season basically turned around after he drubbed the Cubs on July 21.  Before that date, he'd been 6-7 with a 4.89 ERA.  After that date, he went 5-3 with an ERA of 2.16, and it all started with an easy victory against the Cubs in Arizona.

In the long history of the Cubs organization, the team has acquired Cub Killers fairly often, and usually once they come to the North Side they see their success and production level off.  The obvious reason why is because they no longer have the Cubs to pad their stats against.  Like Adam Dunn, Randy Johnson is a legendary Cubs killer who probably will not have the same level of success as a Cub.

Actually, write that down.  Johnson will not have a spectacular 2009.  Chances are that, at 46 next year and with a history of back and knee problems, he'll be inconsistent at best and will likely be mediocre.  Don't get me wrong, I'd expect him to still put up numbers that compete with those of Jason Marquis, but considering that he'd probably make as much or more money as Marquis, and considering that he'd be essentially replacing Ryan Dempster in the rotation, then it seems fair to say that the Cubs would be stepping sideways - if not backwards - in signing the Unit.

Hopefully the Cubs make it a moot point by acquiring Peavy, although that seems to remain a long shot.  Or maybe they will moot it by bringing back Dempster, although that also seems unlikely.  But Randy Johnson as a Cub will not be what this team needs to win, of that I feel certain.

And I'm already missing Kerry Wood.

The Leadership Factor Score (LFS) of Kevin Millar

Recently in the Shout Box, Keith wondered why Al Yellon seems to have a man crush on Kevin Millar.  Were you to mosey on over to Bleed Cubbie Blue, you would read the following sentence: "I would still like to see the Cubs sign Kevin Millar to back up LF, RF and 1B... and to be that clubhouse presence that was missing, somehow, during the disastrous 2008 postseason."

Now, I'm not Al Yellon - obviously, because I permit links to and discussions about other Cubs blogs, even though to do so apparently threatens to eat into my readership and ad revenue somehow - but his desire for Millar is obviously based on more than a clinical review of the numbers.  It's about a call into question regarding the intangibles of baseball.

Let's take a close look at Kevin Millar.  The first thing we might notice is that the dude will be 37 next year.  After that, we might encounter that he batted .234 with a .323 OBP and a .394 slugging percentage, although he did hit 20 homeruns and walk 71 times last year.

Going beyond that, we also find that, while Yellon wants Millar to serve as a backup to 1B, LF, and RF, the guy has played a grand whopping total of 3 games in the outfield in the past 3 years.

In other words, Millar's not going to win you games with his bat or with his glove.  I guess that he must have a high leadership score or something, I don't know.  Similar to Kyle's Scrappy White Player Factor, maybe there would be a way to clinically determine a player's Leadership Factor Score.

Some things that could go into calculating the score ...

Number of times player has had sex with a teammate's wife/girlfriend/sister/mother/daughter.  A promiscuous player is perhaps well respected by certain elements of any clubhouse (like Mickey Mantle, who was a legendary skirt chaser), but if he risks crossing a line, it could negatively effect how he is seen by his teammates.  If Lee Dershipman, our hypothetical example, caves in at a moment of weakness and nails every piece of tail in a teammate's immediate family, then he's going to lose Leadership Cred.

Points are assigned based on a scale of 1-10.  If Lee has nailed a teammate's wife, daughter (if she is under 18, multiply this loss x5 for every year she is underage), mother, or girlfriend, he loses 10 points.  He loses 5 points for a teammate's sister - which can be regained x2 if he winds up marrying her and 3 points for a cousin (1 point if the cousin is distant).  If Lee sleeps with a teammate's mother but then goes on to marry her, it's still creepy and upsetting and he loses an additional 10 points.  All losses are cumulative, so if Lee bangs the teammate's wife on Monday, girlfriend on Tuesday, sister on Wednesday, mother on Thursday, daughter on Friday, and a cousin on Saturday, he loses 53 points over the span of the week.  If he has them all in one epic love-making session, multiply the losses x10.

Times a player has injured himself making a game saving play. There's nothing a teammate respects more than when a player will throw his body into a brick wall to make a game-changing catch.  10 points for each catch that result in a minor injury, 5 points if it just looks painful, and 20 points if the player has to go on the DL.  Additional points get tallied if:

  • Lee Dershipman has never been caught watching his own highlights by a teammate.  Nobody likes a narcissist.  -10 points if he gets caught, +10 points if he doesn't get caught.
  • Lee makes the bone-crushing catch during a contract year.  Points are doubled if the injury occurs before July, because he has basically sacrificed his season - and shaved millions off his potential contract offers - in the name of winning.  Up to +40 points for this one.
  • Lee brags constantly about his catch to the media and others.  -10, unless said bragging lands him some trim, at which point it becomes +5

Times a player has delivered a game-winning hit. +2 points for every successful game-winning hit, but -1 point for each time he fails.  There is also an additional cumulative effect to this calculation.  If Lee wins 2 games in 2 tries, he gets his score of +4, but winning them consecutively adds a multiplier of x2.  If he goes 4 for 4 in game-winning situations, Lee Dershipman scores +8 points x4, for a total of 32 points.  Similarly, if Lee goes down swinging multiple times in a row, those failures culminate as well.  So, if he goes 0 for 5 in a row in clutch situations, he doesn't lose 5 points, he loses 5 points x5, or 25 total.

Gives a rousing speech to his teammates. This is a tricky category because it can be used too often, but probably has to be done occasionally in order to deliver enough leadership points to make a real difference.  If Lee gives a rousing speech to his teammates while they are suffering through a losing streak and they are inspired to win, he gains +10 points.  However, if Lee gives these little speeches too often, they begin to lose their potency, even if the team keeps winning - 7 points for the second one, 5 for the third, 3 for the fourth, -1 for the fifth, -3 for the sixth, and so-on.

If Lee gives a rousing speech but the team loses, there is no negative effect to his score.  However, if they get blown out, he receives a -5, and if they lose because he makes an error or fails to deliver a clutch hit, he receives a -10.

If Lee is more of a quiet leader type, and only gives one of these speeches per season, he gains +25 points should his team win.  Also, all points are doubled if he wins the game for his team with either his glove or bat.

There are other minor factors that would go into the Leadership Factor Score.  I'll outline some of them via bullet point:

  • Is the first one out in a bench clearing brawl +5
  • Is the last one out in a bench clearing brawl -5
  • Takes a rookie under his wing +5, cumulative
  • Maintains a kangaroo court in the clubhouse +5
  • Yells at the manager in front of his team if the skipper is stepping over the lines +5
  • Yells at the skipper in private if he is stepping over the line +10
  • Never stands up for his teammates - 10 per situation
  • Has won a World Championship, +0 (sorry, any idiot can win a World Series)
  • Doesn't talk about his salary in the clubhouse or during a game +10
  • Talks excessively about his salary -10
  • Talks to the media, but only to take the blame for losses or to humbly discuss his successes +5 per time
  • Talks to the media excessively -10 per time

I'm sure there are others we can include as well, but what is certain is this - no fan of baseball can accurately calculate these numbers.  It would take an impartial player in the clubhouse to observe and log all of the relevant factors toward the LFS.

But is this Kevin Millar?  Does he have such a high LFS that it makes up for his poor production, his lack of defensive skill, and his age?  I dunno, are we having this conversation because he was the one who coined the term "idiots" and said "cowboy up" to the Red Sox during their '04 drive?

Regardless of what Millar's LFS is, I would have to argue that it's just a smidgen overrated.  I mean, yes, I'm the same guy who wrote recently about the Cubs not having that guy on their team, which spurned a debate at Another Cubs Blog, but I've never suggested - nor would I - that that guy should be an over-the-hill hack like Kevin Millar.  If the Cubs even need that guy, then he should be somebody who can actually hit the ball and play regularly.

Besides, for some reason I think I've heard stories about what an unmitigated douchebag Millar is.

So, Keith, to answer your question, Al Yellon is caving in to the worst kind of overthinking fan mentality.  He's subscribing to the magic bullet - or, in this case, magic baseball bat - theory that one player of a certain type can make all the difference in a season.  I don't know if Yellon took this point of view 10 years ago, but it's the same sort of thing as proclaiming that 1998 19-game winner Kevin Tapani "knows how to win" because he did it so often that year, despite posting a 4.85 ERA.  I guess Tapani must've immediately forgotten "how to win," though, because he went on to lose 15 more games than he won over the next 3 years (his record was 6-12, 8-12, and 9-14 each of those years).

If Kevin Millar "knows how to win," if he has that intangible, leadership quality the Cubs so desperately lacked these past two years, if he swings a hefty, magic baseball bat, then how did the Orioles lose damn close to 100 games?

So much for leadership.

Free agency strategies

Baseball fans tend to take the kitchen sink approach to free agency.  I think that if we took the time to read the message boards of every team out there, we would find a certain kind of fan making the same kind of a vocation.  For example ... as Nick V. and Colin have noted, Ken Griffey Jr. is a free agent.  He's also a veteran with more than 600+ career homeruns and is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, unless they discover that he's got the bones of prostitutes buried in his basement, or something.

He's also getting on 40, has a decade's worth of injury problems, and has seen declining production.  But there will always be the kind of fan out there who says, "An aging Hall of Famer with credentials out the wazoo?  We gotta get this guy!" It's the name recognition factor - having Ken Griffey Jr. on your team used to mean something.

Now, I obviously am no general manager, and even were he to stumble across this article and read it, I doubt that Jim Hendry would say "hmm, that Kurt Goat Riders guy, I wonder if he's available to work in the front office?"*  But while my brain is no bigger or better than anybody else's, I have a few suggested rules I'd like to offer in regards to free agent strategies.

(*Note to Jim Hendry: Yes, yes I am.  Call me)

1. If he's over 35, do not abide.  Players - especially those not on career prolonging drugs - have a fairly limited shelf life.  However, there are a limited few who, as they enter the golden years of their career, remain viable and worth contemplating.  Guys like that available this year might be Brian Giles and Bobby Abreu.  Abreu is on the bubble - he'll turn 35 in March, and between 1999 and 2005 he averaged 24 homeruns a year, whereas he's averaged 17 in the past 3 seasons.  Giles, meanwhile, will be 38 next season, and his past 4 seasons haven't been in any way, shape, or form outstanding.

2. If he's a relief pitcher older than 33, then he's not a choice for me. Free agent relief pitchers are especially volatile.  We've seen time and time again that a guy with great numbers one year can fall completely off the face of the earth the next, and while some relievers have had success into their 40's, their likelihood of failing has to rise exponentially once they turn 35.  Therefore, if a GM needs a relief pitcher, he should look to offering a 3 year deal to anybody under the age of 33.  And, even then, he should only expect good results for 2 of those 3 seasons.

3. If he has stats on the decline, your GM shouldn't feel inclined. Giles is an example of this.  Players with diminishing returns, again, are not likely to see solid numbers throughout their contract, especially if it's a long-term deal.  The Yankees can afford that, because they can afford to replace a dud, but everybody else is stuck with an albatross.  Teams with their minds set on winning should target players with good numbers who will be no older than 36 or 37 in their final year.

4. Did that veteran player slip a disk?  For the right price, he might be worth the risk! Nothing beats rules contradictions.  Let me elaborate: if the big free agent signing of the Cubs this off season is Curt Schilling, then the Cubs are doomed.  But if the Cubs have gone out, improved their team, and assembled the right players for the job, and then decide to take a low risk on an incentives contract to a 40-year-old like Schilling, then it's ok.  Every good team has that surprise player who contributes in ways beyond anybody's expectations.

Applying these rules to free agency, I'd say that Griffey Jr. should be a no-go unless, into January and without a contract, he calls up the Cubs and says "I see that your outfield is set, but things happen.  I'd like the chance to play for you and I'll sign a cheap contract."

But if a guy like Griffey, or Giles, or even Abreu is at the top of the list, then I will worry about the Cubs.

Have the Cubs shot their budget?

Goat Friend Paul Sullivan had an interesting article this morning, detailing how the Cubs may shoot their budgetary wad on pending free agents Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster.  Wait, you mean that the gravy train isn't infinite in length?

This actually conflicts a bit with other reports that state the Cubs may expand the payroll to $150 million, but it's pretty much a yearly story that comes out at around this time.  In fact, for those of you who've never caught on, your annual Tribune story cycle runs like this:

Early October: Good news!  The Cubs might spend THIS MUCH MONEY this off season!

Mid-Late October: Well, maybe they won't have that much money to spend . . .

Early November (the past 2 years, anyway): Holy shiz-it, the Cubs are going after Superstar Free Agent Guy!

Mid November: Have the Cubs finished their major acquisitions?

It's the same news cycle every winter.  But I think that Sullivan's speculation that Hendry and the Cubs won't be making waves is just that - speculation.  However, I will submit to you one thought:

The Cubs can pretty much keep the offense they have, and they'll compete.  Point of fact, they don't need to upgrade to reach the playoffs, but certainly we have to hope that they will if we want to see them burst through the post season and win, at long last, a World Series.  More to the point, there really aren't any easy upgrades out there.  Players like Adam Dunn are overrated and don't fit into the Cubs plans defensively.  In reality, the one guy I'd love to see the Cubs break the bank to acquire is Jake Peavy, who is a bargain at 10 million a year.  For that kind of money, it's worth going over-budget.

So, it remains to be seen what Hendry and the Cubs will do to improve, if anything.  Perhaps we should be happy if they manage to keep Dempster and Wood, which I expect is likely to happen.

The Lefty Question

A lot has been made of the Cubs and their lack of left-handed hitting talent.  In fact, as Jim Hendry gears up for yet another off season campaign of trying to improve the team, many fans would prefer that he adds minimally two lefty bats to the lineup.

The problem is that, in terms of miracle men, only Jeebus was able to produce something out of nothing.  Hendry may be adept at getting the players he wants, but if there just aren't any lefties on the market, then the Cubs will have to make due with another righty-heavy lineup next year.

At the moment, these are the guys Hendry may choose to pursue due to being born with the strange gift of having semi-useless right hands:

2B Orlando Hudson - bats switch.
SS Raffy Furcal - bats switch.
SS Felipe Lopez - bats switch.  Lopez is actually a bit of a reclamation project.  In 2005, at the age of 25, Lopez smacked 23 homers, drove in 83 RBI, and batted .291 with an OBP of .352 for the Reds.  Since that time, he's fallen off the offensive map - a man who once hit for power and stole 44 bases in '06 hit 6 homeruns, drove in 46 RBI, and stole 8 bases in 16 tries while batting .283 with a .343 OBP in 481 at bats.  Actually, the ironic thing is that Lopez would probably be an offensive upgrade on Theriot, and while he's considered defensively "mediocre," he probably isn't worse than Theriot there either.  Consider him my sleeper pick to be a free agent signing.
OF Milton Bradley - bats switch.
OF Adam Dunn - bats left.

And really, in terms of competent players who can hit left-handed, that's about it.  If Jim Hendry is really gung-ho and has the assets to do it, I suppose the Cubs could have a lineup next year that includes Fukudome, Hudson, Dunn, and Lopez, all of whom capable of swinging from the left-side of the plate.  But is it as important as we're led to believe?

Sure, I've just filled an entire article talking about it, offering suggestions, and so-on, but basically I think the only reason The Lefty Question is a big deal is because it's October, nothing news-worthy is happening, and journalists need to fill up entire articles, too.  While it is certainly true that the Cubs offense flailed and faltered in the post season, I don't think things would've been different with more left-handed hitters.  More important than a balanced lineup is a lineup of good hitters.

Regardless, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hendry make a few moves to pick up a few lefty-hitters.  But will the Cubs be in trouble with only one or two in their lineup?  Nah, not if everybody else can hit.

You be the GM!

Now that Jim Hendry is returning, it looks as though the Cubs will be stepping up their Moves to be Made timetable.  Hendry will likely be in touch shortly with a few pending free agents - particularly, Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood.  Colin has already presented a few quotes which imply that, between the two, Dempster is the priority, although I don't think we'll see Hendry allow Wood to enter the free agent market.

At this point, I think we all agree that some moves will be made, and there will be a few new faces on the Cubs next summer.  Some people, heartbroken and delirious over the October loss, have advocated the dismantling of the winningest Cubs team since 1945, which is just plain idiotic.  I would characterize other people as being more sensible when they suggest making a few improvements where possible.

I'm opening this post up to serve two purposes: 1) I'll make a few fantastical suggestions that I would focus on were I the GM - which will be ripe for criticism and dissent, and 2) Please contribute your own suggestions, as well.  Let's see what we can do here... (click on Read More here or Directly Below)

Trades to be Mades Preview, Pt. 2

 

Trades to be Mades

Welcome to the second day of our coverage!  In today's article, I'm going to ... well, do a whole lot of nothin'.  I'm opening it up to you.

Basically, I love trade speculation as much as anybody.  When I was a kid, I used to fill up notebooks with trade ideas to help better the Cubs.  ....sorry, did I just mumble?  What I meant to say is that I was an unmitigated geek.  Actually, I still am.

However, I now realize how ludicrous fan trade suggestions are.  They just don't make sense, like, ever.  I mean, no, the Cubs aren't going to get Derrek Lee to break his no-trade clause, and even if he will, San Diego wouldn't take him, Jason Marquis, and a prospect in a trade for Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez.

(In all seriousness though, there is a report that Peavy would waive his no-trade clause to pitch in Chicago.)

So, rather than make some trade suggestions that will surely get ripped apart, I'd like to welcome you, the Goat Reader, to offer up some suggestions of your own ... which, uh, will surely get ripped apart.  ...ahem.

Or,  you could even just list off some non-free-agented players out there who you think the Cubs should consider pursuing.

Or, you could make some ludicrous trade suggestions.  Either way.

Trades to be Mades Preview, Pt. 1

A big thanks to Rob for his article this morning on the risks of acquiring Milton Bradley.  Before I get too far into the intended content of this post, I just thought I'd say a few words on it ...

Hell yes, he's worth the risk!  However, I'd consider it a fairly large risk because I don't think he's ever had a manager before with such a legendary temper.  I could see them clashing quickly before Bradley gets chucked to the wind.  I'm not sure how I missed him in my preview, but Bradley's ability to hit certainly brings something to the table.

With that out of the way ... let's look at the Cubs players who should be trade bait this off season:

 

Trades to be Mades

SP Jason Marquis - He has a year remaining on his contract, which is a plus in terms of dealing him.  Unfortunately, he's also scheduled to make 9.75 million, which makes him tougher to deal, unless Hendry decides to eat probably half his salary.

Why He Will Be Dealt: As much as we loathe him and lament his presence on the Cubs, Marquis brings one thing to the table here - as far as #5 pitchers go, he may be the best in baseball, and on a fair number of teams, he might even be the best #3 option.  Perhaps even more importantly, Marquis may see his trade value skyrocket once this off-season's premier free agents are locked up.  Somebody out there will be a loser holding a checkbook, and rather than go home empty, will submit to a trade of Marquis in order to tell his disappointed fan base "see?  We got somebody!"

Why He Will Stay: If Ryan Dempster fails to return to Chicago, then the Cubs might not want to take a risk in also losing Marquis, a, uh, "proven commodity."  The Cubs have a pretty steady rotation, and they've got depth they can play with in Marshall, Gaudin, and perhaps even Rich Hill.  But if Dempster goes, and with Harden's proneness of injury, then the Cubs just might not be able to afford the risk of dealing Marquis, too.

2B Mark DeRosa - Poor guy.  He signs a 3 year deal with the Cubs, busts his ass in the first year while playing multiple positions, and then goes home to an off season of trade speculation.  Then, it turns out that he keeps his job, puts up career numbers which arguably make him the team MVP, and here he is, a guy on the trade block again - at least, in my twisted view.

Why He Will Be Dealt: The Cubs are very limited in how they can offensively upgrade.  Hendry will have to look closely at the versatile DeRosa and conclude accurately that he won't put up numbers equal or better to his '08 performance.  Therefore, his value will never be higher.  Not to mention the fact that the Cubs may choose to upgrade defensively, and if they do it will be in the middle infield.

Why He Will Stay: DeRosa is just too valuable to the Cubs.  He is able to play a number of positions, he can get big hits, and he's only making 5.5 million next season.  Considering the uncertainty of Fukudome in RF, Hendry and Piniella might keep DeRosa around simply for the comfort he provides them.

SS Ryan Theriot - In his second full major league season, Theriot hit, hit some more, and then hit even more after that.  To the angst of Colins everywhere, Theriot put up great numbers (at a glance) and has proven to be an inexpensive alternative to a multi-million dollar free agent, like Raffy Furcal.

Why He Will Be Dealt: Meet the Rich Hill of the '08 off season.  Hill had a very respectable 2007 and immediately became the talk of the trade block because he did not look like a good #2 pitcher and the Cubs needed one.  Hendry held onto him though, and we saw his trade value evaporate.  Theriot might be in the same position.  Yes, he batted .307 this year - led the team, in fact.  He also had a .387 OBP and 22 steals.  Will he do it again?  Probably not.  Might as well deal him while he's got some value and try to upgrade at short.

Why He Will Stay: On a very expensive team, Theriot isn't.  More to the point, he just might be the kind of hitter we want - a guy who works the count, slaps singles, and gets on base.  While he will remain the weakest offensive link next year, his presence allows for Hendry to pursue upgrades in right field that he might otherwise not be able to afford.

CF Felix Pie - At this point, Pie has been a disappointment to the Cubs.  Like Corey Patterson before him, he has yet to answer the call and demonstrate his ability to perform at the ML level.

Why He Will Be Dealt: Neither Hendry nor Lou will feel comfortable with Pie being Option 1 in center field.  Not to mention that - correct me if I'm wrong - he's out of options, so he will never see Iowa skies again.  Therefore, before he proves to be a total bust, while he still has some value, the Cubs will likely look to trade Pie.

Why He Will Stay: He's not Option 1.  He's perhaps Option 1-A.  The Cubs could - and very likely will - move Fukudome to CF next season, making their need of Pie not entirely certain.  However, if he is a bust, he's still a bust with a glove and he might be the best defensive 4th outfielder available to the team.  Besides, let's not overlook one thing - the Pie Man had a good September and maybe, just maybe, he's figured it all out.  I will submit to you this final thought: if Pie gets traded, it won't happen until March.  He'll be the last one Hendry wants to let go of.

Conclusions

If you think I missed out on somebody, post about it in the comments section.  It's likely that, tomorrow, I'll take a stab at players other teams might be open to trading to Chicago.  But, then again, maybe I won't.  I think the biggest mistake a blogger - or media type - can make is actually speculating on this kind of thing, because that person will always come off looking like an uneducated doof.

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